Angel Has Fallen sees the return of Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) who is arrested after he is believed to be responsible for the failed assassination attempt of U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). After escaping from custody, Banning must evade the FBI and his own agency to discover the truth behind the attack. Desperate to clear his name, Banning must turnto unlikely allies in order to save his life and, more importantly, the entire country.
Directed (and co-written) by Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch), Angel is the third movie in the Fallen franchise, this time turning the conspiracy plot against Agent Banning himself. On the run for a crime he didn’t commit, the film doesn’t shy away from any of the particular clichés that fill the genre. Person from his past with an agenda? Check. A ‘higher power’ bent on destruction? Sure. FBI agent who may believe Banning is innocent despite the facts? Absolutely. (At one point, one yearns for Tommy Lee Jones’ speech about searching every ‘dog house, hen house and outhouse’ from The Fugitive.)
But none of that matters here.
From the outset, Angel knows exactly what it wants to offer its audience and it does so with confidence and style. What remains most important for action films like the Fallen franchise are the quality of the set pieces. As a result, despite the above plot clichés, Angel thankfully proves wildly entertaining through its action sequences and sheer desire for wanton destruction. Subtly has never been the goal for this franchise as Banning must duck, dodge and dive his way through increasingly difficult odds on his way to clear his name. Loud, boisterous and fun, the film unapologetically plays out like a theme park ride—and that is to its credit. (Personally, I found the sequences involving the drone attack or the semi-truck particularly fun.)
As Banning, Butler has clearly grown more comfortable in the role of the Secret Service agent and Angel allows him to explore the characters history more than previous films. Broken by the job physically and emotionally, Banning is weighing whether or not he can continue in his current role or if he should finally take a position behind a desk for the sake of his family. (“We’re lions,” an old friend reminds him.”) Time is clearly catching up with Banning and his priorities have changed with a young child and his wife to think about. As a result, the film is interested in exploring what it means to make sacrifices, whether it involves taking a bullet for the president or giving up the only thing you know for the sake of your family and health. (Weirdly, the film even tries to hold Banning’s decision up against his own father’s decision to abandon his family in his youth.) As a result, Butler gives the audience a chance to feel for the big lug as he works through his own personal drama while fighting for his life and reputation.
In the end, Angel Has Fallen admittedly has little depth to its script but that isn’t the goal. This is a film that wants to entertain you by assaulting your eyes and ears with excess and, for the most part, it works. Should the film succeed financially, one can fully expect to see more of Banning over the next few years as well.
Now, pass the popcorn.
Angel has Fallen blows up the box office beginning on August 23rd, 2019